Of all the things to result from the recent Oprah Winfrey sit down with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry this is by far the most unexpected. In an interview that centered around race and colorism in the British royal family, and organization has found another opportunity to educate people on something they feel is affecting black people.
If you recall, Meghan Markle, the biracial wife of Prince Harry, said it was expressed to her that the royal family had “concerns” about how “dark” her son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor would be upon birth. This resulted in a shocked expression from Oprah, one of many, that have become meme’s in the day since.
People were just as shocked as Oprah, and it created such a fire storm that Buckingham Palace had to respond. Their official statement read, “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the palace said. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”
Prince William told a paparazzi in passing “We are very much not a racist family,” William told the reporter, adding that “I haven’t spoken to [Harry] yet, but I will.”
A company named The Slow Factory Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to social and environmental justice, expressed some concerns about the aftermath of the interview. Their focus however was not the royals or the accusations of racism/colorism, it was the Oprah memes and how non-POC are using them – labeling digital blackface.
Their explanation, “Since the #MeghanandHarry interview on Oprah, we’ve been seeing a lot of digital blackface infractions with a few of Oprah’s reaction gifs and images going viral, but that doesn’t mean you should be using them.”
The official Merriam Webster website defines “Digital Blackface” as “the use by white people of digital depictions of Black or brown people or skin tones especially for the purpose of self-representation or self-expression”, which means the definition extends itself to the use of emojis that do not directly resemble your actual skin tone.
In their post, the foundation claims digital blackface feels too reminiscent of the days of ‘blackface’ where white performers would paint their faces black as a form of entertainment for the masses.